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Finance: Between exploitation and upliftment

- Saroj Wagle

Aug 8, 2018-

When I think about finance, it starts from my own home. If we look at our homes, we will see many aspects where financial management and acumen count, be it during a small transaction or a big one. To be honest, our mother is like the finance minister of our home. She manages all kinds of household activities and to do so, she is a savvy financier. In short, never underestimate the sheer scope of the work a mother or a housewife does, and remember, learning to manage your money begins at home.

In this age, the talk of finance is ubiquitous. Finance pervades, impels and drives everything in life, be it choice of career, relationships, our access to health care and education, as well as social prestige. Maybe it is the single minded pursuit of money that marks our culture and prompts powerful individuals and financial institutions to implement high-risk strategies for turning profits that ultimately compromised the lives and destinies of people and nations--I am talking about the recent near-global recession that we are only just recovering from. It is true that booms and busts, ebbs and flows of capital characterise this system, however a concerted effort into applying financial programmes suited to the situation--whether it be a period of prosperity or hardship--can alleviate the needless suffering of the poor who are most subject to the vicissitudes of this system. Attitudes need to change and structures need to be reformed but obviously, this is much harder to do on a national level than in a home setting, though sometimes I wish my mother ran this country.

Mihir Desai writes in his book, “Bankruptcy is a process that cannot be approached with a simple moral frame or set of decision rules. Instead, it is a process of navigating deeply felt obligations--much as a good life is”--sound advice for a bankrupt nation. Recently, the government has announced the budget for this fiscal year of Rs 1.315 trillion, along with claiming that the investments will amount to eight per cent growth annually. Being a finance student, I can see if the money is designated for meaningful work or to only further a problematic situation—at the moment I am not convinced by the promises.

Everyone has their “asset value” in life. Some people might say life should be free of cost but even if money did not exist, there are always costs to bear. On the other hand, some people might bemoan that life is full of debt. This is also wrong--to have a socio-economic situation where people are forced to spend their lives working off their debt with no chance of social mobility is wrong and akin to slavery. Every now and then, in finance we talk about calculated risk, equity, ratio, leverage, portfolio, insurance, market, economy so on and so forth. Our society runs on these concepts, whether you like it or not. Finance can be used to exploit humanity and the extensive financial networks established by a history of violence and coercion have tethered the world in a sense but has also brought it together--the important question now is how to equitably share the worlds wealth and the answer to this is also in finance. 

- Wagle is an MBA student at Charotar University in Gujarat, India

Published: 08-08-2018 08:16

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